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Preliminary Research Exercise

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  • 1. Preliminary Research Exercise Deanna Blevins RHET 201 American University in Cairo
  • 2. Purpose of the Exercise
    • This exercise allows you to abandon an inappropriate topic before you waste too much time on it.
    • Have in mind at least 2 sub-topics, or focuses, of a single broader topic. This way you can choose the most promising.
  • 3.
    • Choose a topic you want to learn about.
    • Remember that research should lead to DISCOVERY, not merely confirmation of what you already think or know. Keep an open mind and be objective.
  • 4. Steps
    • Choose a reasonably narrowed topic.
    • Find a general article on your subject (a magazine or newspaper article, an introduction to a book, an encyclopedia entry).
    • Skim it to see if it interests you and brings up any issues.
    • Read carefully, making notes and underlining.
  • 5. 5. Write at least 10 highly focused, analytical research questions.
    • These questions should be raised by, not answered by the article.
    • If you can’t think of enough questions, try another article.
    • If you still can’t think of enough questions, this is a sign the topic is not suitable for you.
  • 6. Ineffective RQ’s
    • No yes/no questions
    • No questions you already know the answer to
    • No general questions
    • No simple questions of fact
  • 7. Effective RQ’s
    • Analytical: why/how questions
    • Argumentative: an issue of debate
    • Require research from more than one source
  • 8. Are the following good research questions?
    • Is freedom of the press restricted in the US?
    • In what ways are press freedoms being restricted in the US?
    • Why are they being restricted?
    • How does press freedom in the US compare with other countries?